“Courage and Being an Encourager”, by J. Hamptom Keithley III (God’s Promises, Hope, Character of God)

“Courage is not the lack of fear but the ability to face it” Lt. John T. Putnam Jr.

The Meaning and Nature of Courage


The Original Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases lists boldness and fearlessness as synonyms of courage, but courage often exists in spite of the presence of fear.109 In fact, it is probably true that courage is doing what one is afraid to do. Indeed, courage is the capacity to resist fear, to master it, not its absence. Thus, courage is that quality of the heart or mind that gives one the ability to encounter danger and difficulty with firmness and resolve in spite of the presence of fear. “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.”110

The apostle Paul was not one who courted danger nor did he presume upon the Lord. As one who tenaciously pursued the will of God, Paul was always willing to move forward into danger if he was convinced it was God’s will or that it was right even though his heart might have been gripped with fear.

1 Corinthians 2:1-2 When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come with superior eloquence or wisdom as I proclaimed the testimony of God. 2 For I decided to be concerned about nothing among you except Jesus Christ, as one who had been crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. (emphasis mine)

2 Corinthians 7:5 For even when we came into Macedonia, our body had no rest at all, but we were troubled in every way—struggles from the outside, fears from within. (emphasis mine)

Sanders writes,

Martin Luther possessed this important quality in unusual measure. It has been asserted that he was perhaps as fearless a man as ever lived. When he set out on his momentous journey to Worms, he said, “you can expect from me everything except fear or recantation. I shall not flee, much less recant.” His friends, warning him of the grave dangers he faced, sought to dissuade him. But Luther would not be dissuaded. “Not go to Worms!” he said. “I shall go to Worms though there were as many devils as tiles on the roofs.”

… But not all men are courageous by nature as Luther was, and that fact is both explicit and implicit in Scripture. The highest degree of courage is seen in the person who is most fearful but refuses to capitulate to it. However fearful they might have been, God’s leaders in succeeding generations have been commanded to be of good courage. Had they been without fear, the command would have been pointless…”111


As we saw with Joseph of Arimathea, courage is very much a part of spiritual growth and maturity because it is so vital to other qualities of Christ-like character. Speaking of the Lord Jesus, John wrote, “He had loved his own who were in the world, and now he loved them to the very end” (John. 13:1). But without the courage to face the horrors of the cross, He could not have loved them, and us, to the end or to the uttermost, the cross.

C. S. Lewis wrote, “Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality.”112 Without courage, men and women will fail to be loving, to sacrifice, to count the cost, to tackle the challenges or take on the responsibilities that God calls them to.

Undoubtedly, one cause of remaining immature and one of the shortest routes to ineffectiveness is to run scared, to be overly cautious, to play it close to the vest. Unless, through the courage of faith, we are willing to saddle up, we will simply remain in the corral and miss the growth experiences and fruitfulness of the open range.

How much better to take on a few ornery bears and lions, like David did. They ready us for giants like Goliath. How much more thrilling to step out into the Red Sea like Moses and watch God part the waters.… How much more interesting to set sail for Jerusalem, like Paul, “not knowing what will happen to me there,” than to spend one’s days in monotonous Miletus, listening for footsteps and watching dull sunsets. Guard your heart from over protection.

Happily, not all have opted for safety. Some have overcome, regardless of the risks. Some have merged into greatness despite adversity. They refuse to listen to their fears…113

Frankly, courage is learning to tell our fears where to get off, not just so we can be brave but so we can courageously face the hurdles and continue on in the race God has laid out before us. Otherwise, there will be little or no progress in growth and little or no fruitfulness here in time and for eternity.

The Means and Source
of Courage or Encouragement

Naturally, the question arises, where do the courageous get their courage? Or how do we develop the quality of courage in ourselves and in others? How can we learn to tell our fears to get lost? Some men might naturally be more courageous than others, as might have been the case with Martin Luther. But even with Luther, his courage was primarily a product of his biblical convictions and undauntable faith.

Needing courage or to be encouraged is one of the common experiences we all face as finite human beings, and we should never think it odd if we reach a place where we need to be encouraged. Such is clearly evident from Scripture itself where we often find the people of God in circumstances where they needed to be encouraged. Thus, Paul wrote:

2 Corinthians 7:5-7 For even when we came into Macedonia, our body had no rest at all, but we were troubled in every way—struggles from the outside, fears from within. 7:6 But God, who encourages the downhearted, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus. 7:7 We were encouraged not only by his arrival, but also by the encouragement you gave him, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your deep concern for me, so that I rejoiced more than ever.

Facing a variety of troubles from within and without and experiencing fear and disappointment is a part of life though we do need to find courage to go forward. Thus, both finding courage to go forward when fearful, when life seems impossible and the road impassable, and giving encouragement to the discouraged or fearful is an important focus in Scripture. Courage comes from being encouraged. So what does the word encourage mean?

To encourage means give support in order “to inspire with hope, courage, or confidence.” In just the New Testament alone, the terms “encourage” or “encouragement” are found 23 times in the NET Bible and 21 times in the NASB, and “be courageous” or “be strong and courageous” and “take courage” are found numerous times in the whole of Scripture (cf. Deut. 31:6, 7, 23Josh. 1:6-9, 18; 10:35; Mark 6:50John 16:33Acts 23:1).

So, how may we define encouragement biblically speaking? In the light of the whole of Scripture, we might define encouragement as follows:

Encouragement is finding (or helping others to find) the courage, by God’s grace and strength, to run the race He has laid out before us no matter how difficult or painful the course.

Everyone can become discouraged over conditions or lack courage to take on a responsibility or face a daunting task or a trial. Fortunately, we have a loving Lord who, having given His all for us, is committed to our need which includes our encouragement. Thankfully, He has numerous ways or tools He uses to encourage His people. Thus, what are some of the ways God gives courage or encouragement?


Of all the sources of encouragement, the Scripture is one of our greatest—if not the greatest source of encouragement. God’s holy Word with its many principles and promises is our most important and fundamental source of encouragement because it is God’s special and authoritative revelation to us of both Himself and His plan of salvation in Christ.

Let us remember that all of the principles and promises of the Bible are based on the character and being of God’s person and His historical acts in salvation just as He has promised. For instance, the book of Deuteronomy contains Moses’ instruction given during the final months of his life. The setting for this is significant. The new generation was encamped in the plains of Moab prior to their entrance into the Promised Land. They were facing fortified cities and warring people, some of whom were giants. As they entered this new land there would also be many temptations and a whole new way of life. And all of this was to take place under the leadership of Joshua who at that time was unproved, at least as Moses replacement. Further, this new generation had not personally experienced the deliverance out of Egypt or at the Red Sea or the giving of the Law at Sinai. Thus, if they were to have the courage needed to face the difficulties before them, they needed to be reminded of God’s person and his historical acts of deliverance. So Moses wrote these words in Deuteronomy 6.

“When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What do the testimonies and the statutes and the judgments mean which the LORD our God commanded you?’ 21 then you shall say to your son, ‘We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt; and the LORD brought us from Egypt with a mighty hand. 22 ‘Moreover, the LORD showed great and distressing signs and wonders before our eyes against Egypt, Pharaoh and all his household; 23 and He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to give us the land which He had sworn to our fathers.’ (emphasis mine) (Deuteronomy 6:20-23)

Another illustration is Solomon’s prayer of dedication when the temple was completed. There, remembering God’s historical acts of faithfulness, he wrote regarding the nation of Israel:

53 “For Thou has separated them from all the peoples of the earth as Your inheritance, as You spoke through Moses Your servant, when You brought our fathers forth from Egypt, O Lord God.” 54 And it came about that when Solomon had finished praying this entire prayer and supplication to the Lord, he arose from before the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread toward heaven. 55 And he stood and blessed all the assembly of Israel with a loud voice, saying, 56 “Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant.

Thus, it is this God-breathed, inerrant, and infallible revelation of God in Scripture that provides us with the greatest means of courage.

For everything that was written in former times was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope.

In this verse, the apostle stated a vital truth concerning the purpose and ministry of the Scripture. The Scripture is designed to encourage us so that we might have hope. “Encouragement” is the Greek paraklesis, which has a rather broad field of use. Depending on the context, it may mean “exhortation, encouragement, appeal, request, comfort.” Paraklesis and its verb form parakaleo may have a prospective appeal in the sense of an exhortation or appeal for “obedience” or some form of positive “response” (Rom. 12:1,

8). But it also had a retrospective appeal in the sense of “comfort, encourage” in the face of burdens, afflictions, etc. (Acts 20:21 Cor. 14:32 Cor. 7:4). As God’s people we need both, but the focus in Romans 15:4 with the word “hope” is that of encouragement or gaining the courage to move forward in the will of God.

As Romans 15:4 teaches us, our ability to find encouragement from Scripture comes through its instruction. It is the Scripture as God’s special, inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word that informs us about the nature and being of our God. Here we learn about His person,114 His plan of salvation and sanctification (past, present, and future), His purposes in both time and eternity, the principles by which God and His plan operate, and His many promises of salvation, love, grace, mercy, and sovereign care. Included in this revelation is the promise of His impartial discipline and judgment against sin and His rewards for faithfulness. A good illustration of God’s promises based on the character of God is Deuteronomy 31:7-8, but perhaps the classic passage is Joshua 1:6-9

6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 “Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. 8 “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. 9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

In Joshua 1:1-5, Joshua is commissioned by the LORD Himself to become the leader of Israel after the death of Moses. To say the least, this was a daunting task because the nation of Israel had been an extremely difficult people to lead, a fact all too well known by Joshua who had been Moses’ military general in the field. Now God was calling Joshua to be the new leader of this very nation.

From the repetition of the words “be strong and courageous” or “be very courageous” and the exhortation against trembling and becoming dismayed, it seems obvious the LORD knew that Joshua, as brave and as faithful as he had been, would still face hesitation and fear in stepping into the shoes of Moses to lead this rebellious nation into the land, a land of giants and fortified cities.

Thus, the Lord carefully sought to encourage Joshua. But it is significant that Joshua’s encouragement to his commission proceeds out of God’s personal communication, i.e., His revelation to Joshua. In fact, verses 1-18 are all related to this revelation from God. First, God speaks and commissions Joshua (1:1-5) and then calls him to be strong and courageous in light of God’s promises (1:6-9).

Second, in view of this word from God, Joshua speaks to the people and gives them instructions for preparing to cross the Jordan in three days (1:10-15). This is followed by the response of the people to these instructions which, of course, had its source in the Word of God (1:16-18). Thus, God’s revelation, which is equivalent to our possession of the Bible today, became the source of courage for both Joshua and the people.

Joshua 1:1-9 can be divided into a four-fold source of encouragement for Joshua. In this we learn of four fundamental principles that are vital to courage and encouragement:

(1) Strength and courage come through recognizing and relating to God’s pleasure, His will or having a sense of God’s calling and destiny (1:1-2). 

With the words “the Lord spoke to Joshua” in verse one we see the principle of revelation from God—biblical insight. It is this that forms the foundation for courage and conviction for faith and action. Our need is to pray and seek God’s will and wisdom from His Word because the foundation for courage is knowing the Word which enlightens us to His will. In addition it is also helpful to recognize our gifts, abilities, and training because this is an important part of preparation, ability, and the necessary confidence to do His pleasure or will. Again, the process is significant here: in verse 1 God speaks—we have revelation from God to Joshua. Then, based on this revelation, Joshua speaks to the people (vs.10). Thus, the courage that is called for here for both Joshua and the people is in part the direct result of the Word and knowing God’s will (see Eph. 5:9-10).

Joshua” means “the Lord (Yahweh) is salvation.” Joshua’s very name was designed to remind him and Israel that the battle is the Lord’s. Courage comes from knowing this and resting in the Lord as the source of our deliverance and ability for ministry and life.

The next thing we read about Joshua is that he was “Moses’ servant.” Being the servant of Moses illustrates the principle of Luke 16:10-12 and its impact on the development of character and the courage to accept the will and call of God. Though Luke 16:10-12 deals with material blessings, the principle is applicable in other areas of responsibility in life.

Luke 16:10 “The one who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much; and the one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11 If then you haven’t been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will entrust you with the true riches? 12 And if you haven’t been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you your own?

The principle of these verses certainly has an application on the development of courage. Courage for service in the larger and more difficult areas of responsibility start with faithfulness in the smaller and less difficult areas. Everyone needs to find a place to serve and grow because normally that becomes the training ground for greater responsibilities and other areas of ministry God may be calling us to.

Moses my servant is dead” (vs. 2). This fact reminds us that no one is indispensable and leadership changes. If we aren’t training others, we leave gaping holes. We need to be trained ourselves and involved in the process of training others. Effective training is another source of courage because it gives people the confidence to take on responsibility or accept a difficult task.

The command to “arise” emphasizes the need for decisiveness and action. Courage manifests itself in decisiveness and action as root to fruit. Israel was then in the desert and God doesn’t want us in the desert, the place of fear, cowardice, and defeat. The background for this is Numbers 13-14.

(2) Strength and courage come through resting in God’s promises (1:2b-6). 

To grasp Joshua’s need for courage and to appreciate God’s promises here, we must first take a look at some of the obstacles to God’s commission to Joshua:

The first obstacle is seen the command to “cross this Jordan.” 

The Jordan river represents a huge obstacle and an impediment to growth, ministry, and progress. There is good reason to believe that the Jordan was swollen out of its banks at this time of the year (cf. Jos. 3:15; 4:18). Further, to cross the Jordan meant to enter into a hostile land, a land full of enemies some of whom were giants and many of whom lived in strongly fortified cities. This was no simple challenge. Remember, the previous generation failed at Kadesh Barnea because they lacked courage to face these very giants.

A second obstacle is seen in the statement, “you and all this people.” 

This was no small group and the very numbers made this a colossal task. Furthermore, Joshua had the responsibility of leading a people who were noted for being stiff-necked and who threw stones at their leaders. But more importantly, the word “all” reminds us that it is God’s purpose for all His people to move into His will, i.e., to mature and become strong, and to live productively in the will of God.

Nevertheless, regardless of the obstacles, God’s will had been clearly made known to Joshua and he needed to act on this fact.

Now, a brief look at the promises:

There are several promises in verses 2-3, 5, 6, 9, but because of space, we will focus on only two: “To the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel (vs.2),” and “Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given to them, just as I spoke to Moses (vs. 3).” They were going into the Promised Land, to the land God Himself had personally promised to the patriarchs—to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And God, who is immutable, cannot go back on His promises. In fact, God had for some time been preparing the inhabitants for defeat (cf. 2:9f). The land had been theirs for forty years and they had failed to enter in because of unbelief and a lack of courage.

The principle is that God’s Word is filled with hundreds of promises. While many of these are not directly given to the church today, they do illustrate principles that are often applicable to us. In addition, every principle of Scripture ultimately becomes a promise since God’s veracity stands behind the principle. Our need is to know the promises and principles and act on them by faith. These are given to carry us through the Jordan rivers of life—not necessarily remove them. They are not given so we can avoid or go around, but so we can cross them through the enablement God gives us.

But how do we claim and act on these many promises? How do we make these promises a part of our thinking processes?

(3) Strength and courage come through daily renewal in God’s principles (1:7-8). 

Successful ministry is always related to successful Bible study. The Word is intrinsically powerful and able to produce godly change in believers’ lives as it motivates, encourages, gives hope and direction, and exposes us to both our needs and God’s will and provision. The Word has been given to us to establish a communicative relationship with God. It is a means of fellowship with Him.

But this takes time, quality time and diligence. Note the emphasis on this in these verses. “To do according to all the Law…; do not turn from it…” (vs. 7), and “but you shall meditate on it day and night…” (vs. 8). In keeping with the mentality of our age, the average person today wants a quick fix, an immediate solution or three easy steps. Bible study may involve reading something like the Daily Bread (a helpful and commendable pattern), but this alone is not enough. We also need ‘meat and potatoes’ Bible study. If our Bible study consists of short devotionals we can’t develop a deep understanding of Scripture or a strong biblical faith with life-changing results. Relationship with God, knowing Him, as with any relationship, takes time. It is this deeper relationship and knowledge that provides us with deep biblical convictions and the capacity to have the kind of courage that results in life-changing results and faithfulness in ministry and in life.

(4) Strength and courage come through reckoning on God’s person and presence (1:9). 

Last, but certainly not least is the promise of the ever-watchful and protective presence of God. This verse focused Joshua on two great principles of God’s Word. First, in the words, “Have not I commanded you,” the focus is on the source of these commands and promises—God’s Person.

Who had commanded Joshua? It was no less than Yahweh, the eternal, independent, and sovereign God of the universe who is the God of revelation and redemption, the One who revealed Himself and called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldeans, who gave him the Abrahamic Covenant, and who later delivered this nation, Abraham’s descendents, from the destroying angel in Egypt and rolled back the Red Sea. Similarly, in the New Testament, our call to courage and the basis of our encouragement is the accomplished victory of Christ who now sits at God’s right hand as the victorious Savior.

Ephesians 1:17-23 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you spiritual wisdom and revelation in your growing knowledge of him, 1:18 —since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened—so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 1:19 and what is the incomparable greatness of his power toward us who believe, as displayed in the exercise of his immense strength. 1:20 This power he exercised in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms 1:21 far above every rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 1:22 And God put all things under Christ’s feet and he gave him to the church as head over all things. 1:23 Now the church is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

The second focus of verse 9, seen in the promise, “for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go,” points us to God’s Presence. For those who know God and are related to Him by faith in the Savior, there is no situation, no problem or enemy that they can or will ever face alone. The Lord is always there as the believer’s constant support and supply. Thus, to his readers who were facing difficult trials and persecution, the author of Hebrews quoted the Old Testament and wrote, “for he has said, ‘I will never leave you and I will never abandon you.’ So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” (Heb. 13:5b-6).

If we are concerned about the ministries God has called us to or about the Jordans He has called us to cross, we can be absolutely sure that God is infinitely more concerned for our needs than we are. “Indeed, he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). “And God will exalt you in due time, if you humble yourselves under his mighty hand, by casting all your cares on him because he cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:6-7).

So, what’s our need? Our need is simply to walk in the light of His person and presence and to count on His sovereign support, guidance, supply, and care through keeping our focus on Him (Heb. 12:1-2).


J. Hampton Keathley, III

J. Hampton Keathley III, Th.M. was a 1966 graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and a former pastor of 28 years. In August of 2001 he was diagnosed with lung cancer and on August 29th, 2002 he went home to be with the Lord. Hampton wrote many articles for the Biblical Studies

Source: Bible.org Courage and Being and Encourager

“Martin Lloyd-Jones on Ephesians and the Spirit” (The Holy Spirit, Seeking Jesus, Prayer)

Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Ephesians and the Spirit
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill

Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his book has certainly several chapters on Ephesians 1:13, which goes, “In whom also after that ye believed ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise,” and we have the RSV translation, “In him you also…were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.”

In connection with that, he starts this way: “We have dealt with this subject at this length because it seems abundantly clear from the New Testament and from the long history of the Christian Church, that there is nothing which is so essential from this standpoint of Christian witness and testimony as this experience of sealing.

Now remember, this is Doctor Martyn Lloyd Jones, the ex-medical surgeon, the man who preached for years in the center of London at Westminster Chapel. He is regarded by all conservative Evangelicals in England, and I would presume America also, as one of the chief and most reliable expositors of God’s word. And as a very balanced, intelligent, cold, calculating man who was trained scientifically and carried that detailed analysis of scripture into his preaching. He’s not thought of in any way as anywhere near a Pentecostal, and always thought of as someone who would deal with this kind of subject very much down the middle of the road.

So I went to his book really thinking, “He’ll be very good on Ephesians, and it’ll be good just to see what he says, and then to go to my own explanation as I preach on Ephesians.”

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

But I really didn’t expect this kind of presentation on the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I did begin to suspect a little he could take a different viewpoint than I expected, when he quoted several experiences of men actually in his own tradition.

I don’t know if you know much about Jonathan Edwards, but Jonathan Edwards is looked upon as a very strong Calvinist, and a very strong scriptural expositor — but not at all as a man who is favorable towards the kind of emphasis on the Holy Spirit that God has shown us. But he tells of Jonathan Edwards’ experience.

“Jonathan Edwards describes the same experience as follows, ‘Once as I rode out into the woods for my health in 1737, having alighted from my horse in a retired place as my manner commonly has been, to walk for divine contemplation and prayer, I had a view that for me was extraordinary of the glory of the Son of God as mediator between God and man, and his wonderful, great, full, pure, and sweet grace and love, and meek and gentle condensation.

This grace that appeared so calm and sweet appeared also great above the heavens. The person of Christ appeared ineffably excellent, with an excellency great enough to swallow up all thought and conception, which continued near as I can judge about an hour — which kept me the greater part of the time in a flood of tears and weeping aloud.’”

I just didn’t think that Lloyd-Jones would even use that kind of example. He quotes Wesley’s
experience, and then he quotes Edwards, and then another Puritan. So it’s with that background he says about Moody, “Let us now turn to a very different man, DL Moody, who was not a philosopher and nor in any way a great intellect.

He writes, ‘I began to cry as never before. The hunger for this increased. I really felt that I did not want to live any longer if I could not have the power for service. I kept on crying all the time that God would fill me with his Spirit. Well one day, in the city of New York, oh what a day! I cannot describe it. I seldom refer to it. It is almost too sacred an experience to name. I can only say that God revealed himself to me and I had such an experience of his love that I had to ask him to stay his hand.’”

So it’s those kinds of examples that he has used. We then find him going on and making this point that there is nothing which is so essential from the standpoint of Christian witness and testimony as this experience of sealing.

Maybe you didn’t go to Westminster Chapel, but I should explain to you the atmosphere in that place, because Irene and I before we went to America were in London. We went there not many Sundays but a few Sundays, because I heard about Martyn Lloyd-Jones through our fellowship conferences. And as we went in, we were very aware that these were the most professional of the Londoner’s going in. In those days, you could tell this guy is a lawyer; this gal is a teacher; this guy is a businessman. So you had a real feeling that these were thoughtful, intelligent, reflective, and analytical people.

Then you got in and it had two balconies, and the whole place was full. There was an organ playing but no great choir. Then this little bald-headed man, with the kind of gown I wore as a teacher, comes in and sits down, and we sing a hymn and he prays – forever — and then we sing another hymn, and then he stands up and he virtually reads the whole sermon. He goes in detail for about 15 minutes over what they did last Sunday, because he was at that time not expounding Romans, but I think it was Philippians. But it was verse-by-verse, and he just virtually read the sermon.

He would look up at times, because he obviously had lectured at university at some time in his life. But he would virtually read the sermon. Of course, it was great, very detailed exposition of God’s word. So that was the kind of background that you have and that’s the people that he delivered this to.

So it’s maybe good to remember that he had plenty of people there that were very –don’t even use the word Pentecostal — were very skeptical of anything that wasn’t strict Orthodox Evangelical Christianity. He said, “There’s nothing which is so essential from the standpoint of Christian witness and testimony as this experience of sealing. It is possible to witness in a mechanical manor, but that has very little value.

Only those who know this sealing are really effective witnesses.

That is why our Lord told his disciples to stay at Jerusalem until they had received it.

It is not only the highest experience a Christian can ever have, it is the way to make us effective as Christians, to make us alive and radiant. This is proved in every period of spiritual wakening.”

Now we would never have thought of that coming from Martyn Lloyd-Jones. And I think John Stott would not stand in the same place, even though he regards Lloyd-Jones as his mentor. So with that I’d like to go to what I thought was an important emphasis that he brings out.

Lloyd-Jones says, “The remaining question which many ask is, ‘Are we to seek this sealing?’ My answer, without any hesitation, is that we should most certainly do so. As we must be careful about the way in which we should seek it. It is wise to start with a negative.”

“There is nothing in contemporary Christianity which is so dangerous and so unscriptural as the teaching that with regard to each and every blessing in the Christian life, all that we have to do is to take it by faith and not worry about feelings.”

I would have said, “That’s what all your congregation will say, Martyn.” I couldn’t believe it,
because this man with his medical background obviously had done courses in psychology. So it was natural for him then to do a fair bit of counseling. He was known as a very sharp guy in psychology.

So I should read it again, “There is nothing in Contemporary Christianity which is so
dangerous and so unscriptural, as the teaching that with regard to each and every blessing in the Christian life, all that we have to do is to take it by faith, and not worry about feelings.”

Now he’s not saying faith has no place. But you can hear him yourselves: “This is taught with regard to conversion, sanctification, assurance, and physical healing. Dreadful tragedies have happened in every one of these realms as the result of such teaching. Let me give certain examples.” Of course what kills you is he hits your heroes!

“The late gifted Andrew Murray of South Africa, at one time was a great believer in what is called faith healing, and he taught it in the manner which we are criticizing. If a Christian were taken ill, he should read the scriptures, and believe their teaching to be that is it God’s will for a Christian to be always healthy. He should then go to God and tell him that he believed the scriptures and this particular teaching, and then ask him for healing. But the vital point was that he should get up from his knees believing that he had already been healed. The fact that he did not feel better made no difference. He must take his healing by faith and proceed to live his life as if he were perfectly well.”

Now we should be very clear, he is not at all saying that you should not believe that God has
already done everything in Jesus and in his death that is needed to be done. He’s not saying that. That is the basis of faith. But he’s saying that there’s a place for that faith experience being manifested in your present life by the Holy Spirit. And of course there are those who are just absolutely coldly intellectual about it. They say, “No, I just believe it in my head, and I have no experience of it in my life. But that’s OK. I’ll just keep going.” That’s what he’s fighting
against. “The fact that he did not feel better made no difference. He must take his healing by
faith and proceed to live his life as if he were perfectly well.

But there came a time when Andrew Murray ceased to believe after this fashion, and his biography explains how this happened.” “He had a favorite nephew who was suffering from a certain chest complaint,” probably tuberculosis. “Andrew Murray was due to go on a series of preaching meetings in a certain part of South Africa and the nephew was anxious to go with him, but in his ill condition he was not fit to go. The two men believed the same teaching about healing by faith and they both went on their knees together and asked God for healing. They rose to their feet both believing that the young man was healed. They packed their bags and went off together, but they had only been away for a short time when the young man died.”

This is quite interesting, so I’m not asking you to be blown away with this, but I’m asking you to take these words into consideration — just as you continue to think about God and you beginning to approach him, about this. “Let us be clear in our minds then, that we do not receive this blessing in that way, and apart from feelings.

When we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of God we shall know it. It is not to be accepted by faith, apart from feelings. You must go on asking for it until you have it, until you know that you have it. The teaching of take it by faith is responsible, I believe, for much of the present undesirable state of the Christian church. Many seem to go through the entire course of the Christian life in that way, saying, ‘We do not worry about our feelings. We take it by faith,’ with the result that they never seem to have any experience at all.

They live on what they suggest to themselves. It is a kind of odd autosuggestion or kooaism.” I don’t know what “kooaism” is, but it’s presumably some philosophy of positive thinking.

“But when God blesses the soul, the soul knows it. When God reveals his heart of love to you, your own heart is melted by the experience. The Apostles and others who were filled with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost were radiant, taken up above and beyond themselves, and they spoke with an amazing authority and assurance, and all who saw and heard them were amazed and asked, ‘What means this?’ Let us be careful lest we rob ourselves of some of God’s riches blessings.”

“When God seals you with the Spirit, you will know it. You will not have to take it by faith irrespective of your feelings and your condition and simply keep on saying, ‘I must have had it because I believe. I have taken God’s word for it.’ You will not have to persuade yourself. The persuasion will be done by the Holy Ghost, and you will know something of this rejoicing with a joy unspeakable and full of glory. I am not suggesting however, that we should indulge in what have been sometimes called tarrying meetings.”

Now I don’t know if you’ve heard of that, but when I first came into the reality of the Holy Spirit, the old Methodists would talk about tarrying meetings, which were really close to prolonged altar calls. They would go on and on. I certainly myself have been involved in altar calls that have gone on until three or four o’clock in the morning. I’m not saying that that’s all wrong, but that’s what he’s talking about — tarrying meetings.

“There was a sense in which those who started such meetings were right. At any rate they realized that such a policy was something experimental.” Experimental — something that you experienced. “But they were wrong when they went on to say, ‘Let us meet together, and let us wait until we have had the blessing we seek.’” And there’s that demand upon God in that — that is not the submissive absolute faith in God’s sovereignty, and his power to do it. “They were wrong when they went on say, ‘Let us meet together, and let us wait until we’ve had the blessing we seek.’ They would wait for days and sometimes weeks with the result that time and again, certain unfortunate results tended to follow. This was more or less inevitable, as they were creating certain psychological conditions. If people wait in that manner without food and drink and in an intense atmosphere, there is always an enemy on hand who is ready to produce a counterfeit.”

I think that might help some of us who wonder, “Well what about some strange things that we know happen?” He’s certainly very aware of counterfeits and the pretence of Satan to produce things. “And there is always our own psychology, the power of persuasion, and the danger that people may work themselves into a false ecstasy. This danger became especially real when they said, ‘I will not go out of the building until I have the blessing.’” Well, you kind of almost feel, “God I’m holding you ransom,” and it doesn’t seem to me the attitude of the suppliant to the Father.

“Furthermore, there is the very real matter of the sovereignty of God. It is he who decides when to give this blessing. It is he who decides whom to give it. We cannot command it, and we must never adopt the attitude of saying, ‘I am going to fulfill the conditions and wait until it has happened.’” Because of course, that’s creating the idea that this is a mechanical thing: “If I fulfill the conditions it’ll happen.” Whereas it’s not this — it’s a relationship with the dear Savior himself. It’s our Savior. This is our friend we’re talking to. This is his blood that we’re asking for. It’s not put the penny in the machine and blood comes out. This is our Savior’s blood – the life of his Holy Spirit.

“That is unscriptural. It is not God’s method. He certainly told the disciples to tarry at
Jerusalem until the Day of Pentecost, for he had determined on that particular day, as he had revealed already in the Old Testament, to the Old Testament saints, but it supplies no precedent for tarrying meetings.” In other words he’s saying, “God had determined to give the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. That’s why he gathered the disciples together in that way, and that’s why he told them to wait, because it was God himself telling them.” But it’s different from us telling ourselves, “We’re going to wait until he gives it to us.”
“What then should we do? Let me summarize the answer. Search the scriptures. Search the
scriptures for the promises, those exceeding great and precious promises of which the Apostle speaks.

Realize what God means you to have, and what he offers you.” “In the third chapter of our Ephesians epistle, Paul says that he is praying for his friends, ‘that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge.’”

“You and I are meant to know something about this love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.

Do you know it? You are meant to know it. So I say, read the scriptures, and as you read the scriptures say, ‘That is meant for me. I am meant to know that Christ loves me in that manner. I believe it but I have never known it. I have never experienced it. But I am meant to do so.’ Then go on to say, ‘I should have this. I ought to know this.’ That will stimulate you to pray.”

“The next principle is: make sure you are seeking the right thing.

We are not to seek experiences and phenomena as such. We are to seek the Lord, to seek to know him and his love. It is almost insulting to him to seek his blessings and not to seek him. He has done all this for us in order that we might know him, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent. Seek him.

Seek the knowledge of him. Seek his righteousness. Seek his holiness. Seek all these and you will never go astray. But if you seek ecstasies, and visions, and feelings, you will probably have them, but they will be counterfeit. Seek him and you cannot go wrong.” Of course some of this is old stuff to us, because God has been good enough to teach it to us plainly.

“The next step is to do all that we can to prepare the way. ‘

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth,’ Colossians 3:5. We must be cleansed, and must cleanse ourselves if this lovely guest is to enter in. Mortify therefore your members. Get rid of sin. Purify your hearts. ‘Get rid,’ says Paul, ‘of all filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit.’ ‘Purify your hearts, you double-minded,” says James. Then take Peter’s advice in the first chapter of his second Epistle, ‘Add to your faith virtue,’ and so on. ‘The man who fails to do this is short sighted,’ says Peter.

He does not see afar off. He does not realize that he was purged from his old sins. But if you do these things you will make your calling and election sure, and an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We must concentrate on making our calling and election sure.”

“Then positively, as we have seen, we are to put into practice the virtues which the Apostle Peter mentions in detail, ‘Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity (love).’ Peter exhorts to do these things. He does not merely say, ‘Go to a meeting and wait for it, or receive it by faith.’ We have to furnish out our faith, to fill it out with these other things. We are to labor at it, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

It’s much of what we have shared — the need to ask the Holy Spirit to show you, “Is there any way in which I’m not fully surrendered to you? Is there any way in which you are not able to enter me, because of some attitude I have?” It’s full consecration.

“If you read the lives of the great men of God, whose experiences I have quoted, you will find that they all follow these injunctions. They were all men who labored in reading the scriptures and trying to understand them. They purified their lives by self-examination and mortification of the flesh. As you read the biographies of Whitfield, Wesley, and Jonathan Edwards, and John Fletcher of Madeley, and others, you will find that all these men gave themselves to spiritual exercises. They did not take it by faith, and persuade themselves that they must have received it. They gave themselves to seeking God.”

All of this of course leads invariably to prayer.

“You must pray for this blessing. I like Thomas Goodwin’s word here. ‘Sue him for it,’ he says. ‘Sue him for it.’ ‘Give him no rest,’ as Isaiah says.” “I know of no better prayer to offer than that found in one of the hymns of William Williams, the Welsh hymn writer, which has been translated thus:

‘Speak I pray Thee, gentle Jesus!
O, how passing sweet thy words,
Breathing o’er my troubled spirit
Peace which never earth affords.
All the world’s distracting voices,
All th’enticing tones of ill,
At Thy accents mild, melodious,
Are subdued, and all is still.’”
Tell me Thou art mine, O Savior,
Grant me an assurance clear;
Banish all my dark misgivings,
Still my doubting, calm my fear.
O, my soul within me yearneth
Now to hear Thy voice divine;
So shall grief be gone forever,
And despair no more be mine.’”

Interesting to hear an old Welshman go to one of his countrymen!

“That is the way. Offer up that prayer to him, until he has answered it. ‘Tell me thou art mine, O Savior, grant me an assurance clear.’ Has he granted you that request? Has he whispered to you? Has he spoken to you? Pray for his blessing. Seek it. Be desperate for it. Hunger and thirst for it. Keep on praying until your prayer is answered. Take time, in other words. Take time, not only take time to be holy, but take time to seek this sealing with the Spirit. Keep on, never cease, and your experience one day will be, ‘Sometimes a light surprises the Christian while he sings; it is the Lord who rises with healing in his wings.’”

“This may well happen when you least expect it. The lives and the testimonies of the saints throughout the centuries are agreed in saying that God tends to do this for us at certain special times. Sometimes when a man has to go through a very great trial God gives him this blessing just before the trial comes. How kind is our God! What a loving Savior! What a loving Father. When he knows that something is about to happen to you that will test you to the very depth of your being, he grants you this blessed assurance so that you can go through the trial triumphantly. It may happen after a period of apparent desertion, sometimes after a time when the fig tree was not blossoming and all the trees were bare, when all had gone wrong. Suddenly the light breaks, and he speaks and he whispers his love to us, and gives us the white stone with a new name, and feeds us on the hidden manna.”

“Many Christian people have only known this just before their death, and they have agreed in saying that it was their own ignorance that prevented their receiving it earlier. They had not sought it as they should of done. They were good men. They had lived the Christian life. They had even been used of God. But they had never heard his accents mild melodious. He had never whispered in their hearts. Their desire for the blessing had been too spasmodic. They had not longed for it and sought it as they should of done.”

“But face-to-face with the end they have sought it with a new intensity and he has heard them, and spoken to them. There are many such Christians. God has granted them this blessed direct assurance just before he took them to himself forever. So I say again: seek it. Be satisfied with nothing less. Has God ever told you that you are his child? Has he spoken to you, not with an audible voice, but in a sense in a more real way? Have you known this illumination, this melting quality? Have you known what it is to be lifted up above and beyond yourself? If not, seek it, cry out to him, saying, ‘Speak I pray thee gentle Jesus,’ and sue him for it, and keep on until he speaks to you.”

I thought it was remarkably strong and clear in its emphasis – in his emphasis on a definite
experience, and you know yourself best where you stand. It seems to me the only basis on which we can do anything is the strong firm basis that we have stated. This is incredible, but God, out of his great graciousness whether we enter into this or not, he has created us in his Son. He has borne with us, and he will take us to himself in his Son — because that’s what we ourselves believe. So he is so kind. He will take us at the end to himself whether we enter into this or not, but what Lloyd-Jones of course is making very clear is that there is a time when God wants us to draw close to him, and to experience that.

He has one little illustration that might express it in a different way. He talks about a father
and a son, and talks about how they were quite close to each other, but then the son did something wrong. “There is a very beautiful illustration of this aspect of the truth in the words of the saintly, the heavenly,” Doctor Richard Sibbes, another of the great Puritans of 300 years ago. “Doctor Sibbes says that the difference between the conversion experience and the sealing can be stated thus: ‘It is like a child who has been a little mischievous and disobedient, who has a sense of guilt and is unhappy, and who keeps on running back to his father. The father receives him but he does not smile much at him. This is the father’s way of reprimanding him, and of punishing him for his disobedience. But the child by running back gets a certain satisfaction when he is with his father.’”

“’This may go on for some time. Then one day as they’re walking along a road together, the child presses near to his father and touches him. The father continues just to look at him, but then after a while the father takes hold of the child, lifts him up and fondles him in his arms, and showers his love upon him.’ That is the difference. Without the sealing of the Spirit you can know that your sins are forgiven, but not in this special and certain manor. This goes beyond the initial experience of forgiveness. This is God, if I may so express it, endearing us and showering his love upon us — overwhelming us.”

So it’s something dear, and it’s a privilege, and it’s something precious that our Father has for us. It’s not something that we have to beat ourselves into or threaten ourselves with damnation if we don’t enter into it. But it is something precious that God has for us. And it seems that’s the way we should seek it. This is our dear and loving Father, who wants us, really along the lines of this morning’s presentation, to experience the reality of the position that he has given us next to his heart in his own dear Son. And really, what is being asked of each of us tonight is, have we an experience of that closeness to him? Have we felt overwhelmed by his love? Let’s pray.

“Love’s Labors”, from Charles Spurgeon (Bears, Believes, Hopes, Endures)

1617. Love’s Labours

by Charles H. Spurgeon 

A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, September 4, 1881, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. [1Co 13:7]

1. The grace of love, of which so much is most admirably spoken in this chapter, is absolutely essential for true godliness. It is so essential that if we have everything besides, but do not have love, it profits us nothing. The absence of love is absolutely fatal to vital godliness; so says the Holy Spirit in this chapter. When, then, you read the apostle’s high praise of love, do not say, “This is a special virtue to which certain special saints have attained, and we are bound to admire them for it, but we do not need to imitate them.” Far from it. This love is the common, everyday livery of the people of God.

It is not the prerogative of a few; it must be the possession of all. Do not, therefore, however lofty the model may be, look up to it as though you could not reach it: you must reach it. It is set before you not only as a greatly desirable thing, but as absolutely necessary; for if you excelled in every spiritual gift, yet if you did not have this all the rest would profit you nothing whatever. One would think that such excellent gifts might benefit us a little, but no, the apostle sums them all up, and says of everything, “it profits me nothing.”

I pray that this may be understood by us at the very beginning, lest we should manage to slip away from the truth taught to us by the Holy Spirit in this place, and should excuse ourselves from being loving by the notion that we are so insignificant that such high virtue cannot be required of us, or so feeble that we cannot be expected to attain to it. You must attain it, or you cannot enter into eternal life, for if any man does not have the Spirit of Christ he is none of his, and the Spirit of Christ is sure to foster the love of our text, which “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

2. What does this teach us at the outset, but that a salvation which leads to this must be from God, and must be created in us by his power? Such a fair grace can never grow out of our fallen nature. Shall such a clean thing as this be brought out of an unclean? This glorious salvation to pure love must be grasped by faith, and created in us by the operation of the Spirit of God.

If we consider salvation to be a little thing, we bring it, as it were, within the sphere of human possibility, but if we present it in its true proportions as involving the possession of a pure, loving, elevated state of heart, then we perceive that it is a divine wonder. When we estimate the renewed nature properly we cry, “This is the finger of God,” and very gladly do we then subscribe to Jonah’s creed, “Salvation is by the Lord.”

If love is in any man and abounds, God must have the glory for it; for assuredly it was never attained by mere natural effort, but must have been bestowed by that same hand which made the heavens. So then, brethren, I shall hope when I conclude to leave on your minds the impression of your need of the grace of God for the attainment of love. I would not discourage you, but I would have you feel how great a labour lies before you, and how impossible it will be unless you are clothed with a strength beyond your own. This shall be your solace that if it cannot be the outcome of your own effort, yet “the fruit of the Spirit is love,” and the Spirit is ready and willing to bear fruit in us also.

3. Notice then, first, the multitude of love’s difficulties; it has to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things: secondly, observe the triumph of love’s labour; it does all these four things, it “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”: and then, thirdly, this will bring us back to the point we have started from, the sources of love’s energy, and how it is she is able to win her fourfold victory over countless difficulties.


5. When the grace of God comes into a man he is born at once to love. He who loves is born by God, and he who is born by God loves. He loves him who begat, even God, and he loves him who is begotten by him, even all the saved ones. He begins to obey the great command to love his neighbour as himself. His motto is no longer that of an earthly kingdom, Dieu et Mon droit — God and my right; but he bears another word on his escutcheon, [a] Dieu et mon frere — God and my brother.

6. No sooner is love born than she finds herself at war. Everything is against her, for the world is full of envy, hate, and ill will. I would warn the most loving-hearted that they have entered upon a war for peace, a strife for love: they are born to hate hatred, and to contend against contention. As the lily among thorns, so is love among the sons of men. As the hind among the dogs, so is love among the selfish multitude.

7. Evidently the difficulties of love are many, for the apostle speaks of them as “all things” and as if this were not enough he repeats the words, and presents the opposing armies as four times “all things.” I do not know whether you can calculate this mighty host. “All things” would seem to comprehend as much as can be, but here in the text you have this amount multiplied by four. For, my brother, you will have to contend with all that is within yourself.

Nothing in your original nature will help you. God has put within you a new life, but the old life seeks to smother it. You will find it to be a severe struggle to master yourself, and if you succeed in it you will be a conqueror indeed. Besides that you will have to contend with “all things” in the people whom you are called upon to love. You must have fervent love towards the saints, but you will find very much about the best of them which will try your patience; for, like yourself, they are imperfect, and they will not always turn their best side towards you, but sometimes sadly exhibit their infirmities. Be prepared, therefore, to contend with “all things” in them.

As for the ungodly whom you are to love to Christ, you will find everything in those who will oppose the drawings of your love, for they, like yourself, by nature are born in sin, and they are rooted in their iniquities. When you have mastered that kind of “all things” you will have to contend with “all things” in the world for the world lies in the wicked one, and all its forces run towards self, and contention, and hate.

Every man’s hand is against his companion, and there are few who honour the gentle laws of love; they do not know that divine love which “does not seek her own.” The seed of the serpent is at enmity with all that is kind, and tender, and self-sacrificing, for these are the marks of the woman’s seed. Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. And then remember that “all things” in hell are against you. What a seething mass of rebellions life, all venomous with hate, is seen in the regions of darkness. The prince of the power of the air leads the vanguard, and the host of fallen spirits eagerly follow him, like bloodhounds behind their leader. All these evil spirits will endeavour to create dissension, and enmity, and malice, and oppression among men, and the soldier of love must wrestle against all these. See, oh my brother, what a battle is yours! Speak of the crusades of old, what a crusade is this against hate and evil. Yet we do not shrink from the fray.

8. Happily, though love has many difficulties, it overcomes them all, and overcomes them four times. There is such vitality in evil that it leaps up from the field where it seemed to be slain, and rages with all its former fury. First, we overcome evil by patience, which “bears all things.” Let the injury be inflicted, we will forgive it, and not be provoked: we will even bear in silence seventy times seven. If this does not suffice, by God’s grace we will overcome by faith: we trust in Jesus Christ, we rely upon our principles, we look for divine help, and so we “believe all things.”

We overcome a third time by hope: we rest in expectation that gentleness will win, and that longsuffering will wear out malice, for we look for the ultimate victory of everything that is true and gracious, and so we “hope all things.” We finish the battle by perseverance: we remain faithful to our resolve to love, we will not be irritated into unkindness, we will not be perverted from generous, all-forgiving affection, and so we win the battle by steadfast non-resistance. We have set our helm towards the port of love, and we will steer towards it, come what may. Baffled often, love “endures all things.”

9. Yes brethren, and love conquers on all four sides. Love does, as it were, make a hollow square, and she sets the face of her warriors towards all quarters of the compass. Does God himself seem to strike love with afflictions? She “bears all things.” Do her fellow Christians misrepresent her, and treat her badly? She believes everything that is good about them, and nothing that is injurious.

Do the wicked rise against her? When she tries to convert them, do they return evil for good? She turns her hopefulness to the front in that direction, and hopes that the Spirit of God will still bring them to a better mind. And does it happen that all her spiritual foes attack her with temptations and desperate insinuations? She lifts up the banner of patience against them, and by the power of God’s grace she puts the infernal enemy to the rout, for she “endures all things.” What a brave mode of battle is this! Is not love a man of war? Is it not invincible? Hear love’s heroic cry as she shouts her defiance, — 

   Come one, come all, this rock shall fly,
   From its firm base as soon as I.

If once taught in the school of Christ to turn love to every point of the compass, and so to meet every assault against our heart, we have learned the secret of victory.

10. It seems to me that I might read my text as if it said that love conquers in all stages of her life. She begins in conversion, and immediately those who notice her birth are angry, and the powers of evil are at once aroused to seek her destruction. Then she “bears all things.” Let them mock, love never renders railing for railing: Isaac is not to be provoked by Ishmael’s jeers.

11. She gathers strength and begins to express to others what she knows about her Lord and his salvation. She “believes all things,” and so she confesses her faith, and her fellow Christians are confirmed by her witness. It is her time of energy, and so she tries to woo and win others, by teaching them the things which she believes.

12. She advances a little further; and, though often disappointed by the unbelief of men and the coldness of her fellow Christians, she nevertheless “hopes all things,” and pushes on in the expectation of winning more of them. Her dove’s eyes see in the dark, and she advances to victory through ever-growing conflict.

13. Indeed, and when infirmities thicken upon her, and old age comes, and she can do little else except sit still, and bear and believe and hope, she still perseveres, and accepts even the stroke of death itself without complaining, for love “endures all things.”

14. I do not think I need to say more about the difficulties of love. I am sure that every experienced person knows that these difficulties are supreme, and that we require superlative grace if we are to master them. Love does not ask to have an easy life of it: self-love makes that her goal. Love denies herself, sacrifices herself, so that she may win victories for God, and bring blessings on her fellow men. Hers is no easy pathway, and hers shall be no tinsel crown.

15. II. Secondly, let us survey THE TRIUMPH OF LOVE’S LABOUR. Her labours are fourfold.

16. First, in bearing all things. The word here rendered “bear” might as correctly have been translated “cover.” You who have the 1881 English Revised Version will find in the margin, “Love covers all things.” “Covers” is the meaning of the word in ordinary Greek, but Paul generally uses the word in the sense of “bear.” Our translators, therefore, had to choose between the usual meaning and the Pauline usage, and they selected Paul’s meaning, and put it down in the first place as “bears,” giving us in the margin the other sense of “covers.” The two ideas may be blended, if we understand it to mean that love bears all things in silence, concealing injuries as much as possible even from herself.

17. Let us just think of this word “covers” in reference to the brethren. True love refuses to see faults, unless it is so that she may kindly help in their removal. Love has no wish to see faults. Noah’s younger son discovered and declared the shame of his father, but his other sons took a garment and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father: in this way love deals with the sins of her brethren.

She painfully fears that there may be something wrong, but she is loath to be convinced of it: she ignores it as long as she can, and wishes that she could deny it altogether. Love covers; that is, it never proclaims the errors of good men. There are busybodies around who never discover a fault in a brother but they need to hurry off to their next door neighbour with the savoury news, and then they run up and down the street as though they had been elected as common criers. It is by no means honourable to men or women to set up to be common informers. Yet I know some who are not half so eager to proclaim the gospel as to proclaim slander. Love stands in the presence of a fault, with a finger on her lip. If anyone is to strike a child of God, let it not be a brother. Even if a professor is a hypocrite, love prefers that he should fall by any hand rather than her own. Love covers all injuries by being silent about them, and acting as if they had never been. She sits alone, and keeps silence. To speak and proclaim her wrong is too painful for her, for she fears to offend against the Lord’s people. She would rather suffer than murmur, and so, like a sheep before her shearers, she is dumb under injury.

18. I wish, brothers and sisters, that we could all imitate the pearl oyster. A harmful particle intrudes itself into its shell, and this vexes and grieves it. It cannot eject the evil, and what does it do but cover it with a precious substance extracted out of its own life, by which it turns the intruder into a pearl. Oh, that we could do so with the provocations we receive from our fellow Christians, so that pearls of patience, gentleness, longsuffering, and forgiveness might be created within us by what otherwise would have harmed us. I would desire to keep ready for my fellow Christians, a bath of silver, in which I could electroplate all their mistakes into occasions for love. As the dripping well covers with its own deposit all that is placed within its drip, so would love cover all within its range with love, so turning even curses into blessings. Oh that we had such love so that it would cover all, and conceal all, as far as it is right and just that it should be covered and concealed.

19. As for bearing all, taking the words as they stand in our version, I wish to apply the text mainly to our trials in seeking the conversion of the unconverted. Those who love the souls of men must be prepared to cover much when they deal with them, and to bear much from them in silence. When I begin to seek the conversion of anyone, I must try as much as I ever can to ignore any repulsiveness that there may be in his character. I know that he is a sinner, otherwise I would not seek his salvation; but if he happens to be one who has fallen very low in the esteem of others, I must not treat him as such, but cover his worst points. You cannot possibly bring the Samaritan woman who has had five husbands into a right state of mind by “wondering that he spoke with the woman.”

The disciples acted like this, but not so their Master, for he sat on the well and talked with her, and made himself her willing companion so that he might be her gracious Saviour; he ignored her sin as far as to speak with her for her good.

20. You will not long have begun this holy work before you will discover in the heart you seek to win much ignorance of the gospel. Bear with it, and bring forward the text which sheds light on that darkness, and teach the truth which will remove that error. Before long you will have to contend with hardness of heart, for when a man knows the truth he is not always willing to receive it. Bear it, and do not be vexed. Did you not expect the heart to be hard? Do you not know what business you are doing? You are sent to turn men from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Do not be astonished if these things should not prove to be child’s play. 

In addition to this perhaps you will have ridicule poured upon you; your attempts to convert will be converted into jests. Bear it; bear all things! Remember how the multitude thrust out the tongue at your Lord and Master when he was dying, and do not be so proud as to think yourself too good to be laughed at. Still speak concerning Christ, and whatever happens, bear all things. I will not attempt to make a catalogue of your provocations, you shall make one yourself after you have tried to convert men to Christ; but all that you can possibly encounter is included in my text, for it says, “bears all things.”

If you should meet some extraordinary sinner who opens his mouth with cruel speeches such as you have never heard before, and if by attempting to do him good you only stir him up to profanity and blasphemy, do not be astonished; approach him again, for love “bears all things,” whatever they may be. Push on and say, “Yes, all this proves to me how much you need saving. You are my man; if I get you to Christ there will be all the greater glory to God.” Oh blessed love, which can so cover all things and bear all things for Christ’s sake.

21. Do you want an example of it? Would you see the very mirror and perfection of the love that bears all things? Behold your divine Lord. Oh, what he has covered! It is a tempting topic, but I will not dwell on it. How his glorious righteousness, his wondrous splendour of love, has covered all our faults and all their consequences, treating us as if he saw no sin in Jacob, neither perversity in Israel. Think what he bore when he came to his own and his own did not receive him! What a covering was that when he said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

What a pitying sight of the fearful misery of man our Lord Jesus had when holy tears bedewed those sacred eyes! What a generous blindness to their infamous cruelty he revealed when he prayed for his bloodthirsty enemies. Oh beloved, you will never be tempted, and taunted, and tried as he was; yet in your own shorter measure may you possess that love which can silently bear all things for the elect’s sake and for Christ’s sake, so that the multitude of the redeemed may be gathered in, and that Christ through you may see the travail of his soul.

22. Now let us look at the second of love’s great labours. You have heard of the labours of Hercules, but the fictional hero is far outdone by the veritable achievements of love. Love works miracles which only grace can enable her to perform. Here is the second of them — love “believes all things.”

In reference, first, to our fellow Christians, love always believes the best of them. I wish we had more of this faith around in all the churches, for a horrible blight falls upon some communities through suspicion and doubt. Though everything may be pure and right, yet certain weak minds are suddenly fevered with anxiety through the notion that all is wrong and rotten. This unholy doubt is in the air, a blight upon all peace: it is a kind of musty mildew of the soul by which all sweet perfume of confidence is killed. The best man is suspected of being a designing knave, though he is honest as the day is long, and the smallest fault or error is frightfully exaggerated, until we seem to dwell among criminals and to be all villains together.

If I did not believe in my brethren I would not profess to be one of them. I believe that with all their faults they are the best people in the world, and that, although the church of God is not perfect, she is still the bride of One who is. I have the utmost respect for her, for her Lord’s sake. The Roman matron said, “Where my husband is Caias I am Caia”; where Christ is King, she who stands at his right hand is “the queen in gold of Ophir.” God forbid that I should rail at her of whom her Lord says, “Since you were precious in my sight, you have been honourable, and I have loved you.”

True love believes good of others as long as she ever can, and when she is forced to fear that wrong has been done, love will not readily yield to evidence, but, she gives the accused brother the benefit of many a doubt. When the thing is too clear, love says, “Yes, but the friend must have been under very strong temptation, and if I had been there I dare say I should have done worse”; or else love hopes that the erring one may have offended from a good though mistaken motive; she believes that the good man must have been mistaken, or he would not have acted so. Love, as far as she can, believes in her companions. I know some people who habitually believe everything that is bad, but they are not the children of love. Only tell them that their minister or their brother has killed his wife, and they would believe it immediately, and send out for a policeman: but if you tell them anything good about their neighbour, they are in no such hurry to believe you.

Did you ever hear of gossips tittle-tattling approval of their neighbours? I wish the chatterers would take a turn at exaggerating other people’s virtues, and go from house to house trumping up pretty stories of their acquaintances. I do not recommend lying even in kindness, but that side of it would be such a novelty that I could almost bear with its evils for a change. Love, though she will not speak an untruth in praise of another, yet has a quick eye to see the best qualities of others, and she is habitually a little blind to their failings. Her blind eye is to the fault, and her blight eye is for the excellence.

Somewhere or other I found an old legend, — I do not suppose it to be literally true, but its spirit is correct. It is said that, once upon a time, in the streets of Jerusalem, there lay a dead dog, and everyone kicked at it and reviled it. One spoke of its currish breed, another of its lean and ugly form, and so forth; but one passed by who paused for a moment over the dead dog, and said, “What white teeth it has.” Men said, as he went on his way, “That is Jesus of Nazareth.” Surely it is always our Lord’s way to see good points wherever he can. Brethren, think as well as you can even of a dead dog. If you should ever be led into disappointments and sorrows by thinking too well of your fellow men, you need not greatly blame yourself. I found, in Anthony Farrindon’s Sermons, a line which struck me. He says the old proverb has it, “Humanum est errare,” to err is human, but, he says, when we err by thinking too kindly of others we may say, “Christanum est errare,” it is Christian to err in such a way. I would not have you credulous, but I would have you trustful, for suspicion is a cruel evil. Few fall into the blessed error of valuing their fellow Christians at too high a rate.

23. In reference to the unconverted this is a very important matter. Love “believes all things” in their case. She does not believe that the unconverted are converted, for, if so, she would not seek their conversion. She believes that they are lost and ruined by the Fall, but she believes that God can save them. Love believes that the precious blood of Christ can redeem the bondslaves of sin and Satan, and break their iron chains; she believes that the power of the Holy Spirit can change a heart of granite into a heart of flesh.

Love, therefore, believing this, believes also that God can save this sinner by herself, and she therefore begins to speak to him, expecting that the word she speaks will be God’s instrument of salvation. When she finds herself sitting next to a sinner, she believes that there was a necessity for her to be there, even as Christ needs to go through Samaria. She says to herself, “Now I will tell to this poor soul what Christ has done, for I believe that even out of my poor lips eternal life may flow, and in such a babe as I am God may perfect praise for his own glory.”

She does not refrain from preaching Christ through fear of failure, but she believes in the great possibilities which lie in the gospel and in the Spirit of God, and so she deals earnestly with the man next to her. She believes in her own principles, she believes in the grace of God, she believes in the power of the Spirit of God, she believes in the force of truth, she believes in the existence of conscience, and so she is motivated to do her saving work. She believes all things.

24. Brethren, do you want a model of this? Then I beseech you to look to your divine Master once again. See him in the morning when the sheep are counted, missing one of them, and he is so full of faith that he can find the lost one, that he leaves the ninety and nine, and cheerfully enters the pathless wilderness. See how he bounds over the mountains! How he descends the ravines! He is seeking his sheep until he finds it, for he is fully assured that he shall find it. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, for his faith is great in the salvation of men, and he goes out to it believing that sinners shall be saved. I delight in the deep, calm faith of our Lord Jesus Christ. He had no faith in man’s goodness, for “he knew what was in man”; but he had great faith in what could be done in men and what could be accomplished for them, and for the joy that was set before him, in this he endured the cross, despising the shame. He had faith that grand things would come from his salvation — men would be purified, error would be driven out, falsehood would be slain, and love would reign supreme.

25. Here is the second grand victory of love, she “believes all things.” Let us exercise ourselves in this until we are skilled in it.

26. Love’s third great labour is in “hoping all things.” Love never despairs. She believes in good things yet to come in her fellow men, even if she cannot believe in any present good in them. Hope all things about your brethren. Suppose a friend is a member of the church, and you cannot see any clear signs of grace in him, hope all things about him. Many true believers are weak in faith, and the operations of grace are dim in them; and some are placed in positions where the grace they have is much hindered and hampered: let us take these things into consideration. It is hard to tell how little grace may suffice for salvation: it is not ours to judge. Hope all things, and if you should be forced to see sad signs in them, which make you fear that they have no grace, still, remember that some of the brightest believers have had their faults, and grave ones too. Remember yourself, lest you also are tempted. If you cannot hope that these people are saved at all, hope that they will be, and do all that you can to promote so blessed an end.

27. Hope all things. If your brother has been very angry with you for no good reason, hope that you will win him; and set about the task. If you have tried and failed, hope to succeed next time, and try again. Hope that though you have failed seven times, and he still speaks bitterly, yet in his heart he is really ashamed, or at least that he will be so very soon. Never despair of your fellow Christians.

28. As for the unconverted, you will never do anything with them unless you hope great things about them. When the good Samaritan found the poor man half-dead, if he had not hoped about him he would never have poured in the oil and the wine, but would have left him there to die. Cultivate great hopefulness about sinners. Always hope for them that they will still be saved: though no good signs are apparent in them. If you have done your best for them, and have been disappointed and defeated, still hope for them. Sometimes you will find a reason for hope in the fact that they begin to attend a place of worship. Grasp at that, and say, “Who can tell? God may bless them.”

Or if they have long been hearers, and no good has come of it, still hope that the minister will one day have a shot at them, and the arrow shall pierce through the joints of the harness. When you last spoke to them there seemed to be a little tenderness: be thankful for it, and have hope. If there has been a little amendment in their life, be hopeful about them. Even if you can see nothing at all hopeful in them, still hope that there may be something which you cannot see, and perhaps an effect has been produced which they are endeavouring to conceal.

Hope because you are moved to pray for them. Get other people to pray for them, for as long as they have someone to pray for them their case is not hopeless. If you get others to pray, there will be another string for your bow. If they are very ill, and you cannot get at them, or they are on their deathbeds, still have hope for them, and try to send them a message in some form or other. Pray the Lord to visit and save them; and always keep up your hope for them. Until they are dead do not let your hope be dead.

29. Would you see a model of this? Ah, look at our blessed Lord, and all his hopefulness for us: how, despairing of no one, he went after those whom others would have given up. If you ask for a proof, remember how he went after you. Will you despair of anyone since Christ did not despair of you? Wonders of grace belong to God, and all those wonders have been displayed in many among us.

If you and I had been there when they brought the adulterous woman taken in the very act, I am afraid that we should have said, “This is too bad; put her away, she cannot be borne with.” But oh, the hopefulness of the blessed Master when even to her he said, “Woman, where are your accusers? Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more.” What wonderful patience, and gentleness, and hopefulness our Lord displayed in all his conduct with the twelve! It was a noble hopefulness in Christ which led him to trust Peter as he did: after he had denied his Master with oaths, our Lord trusted him to feed his sheep and lambs, and set him in the forefront of apostolic service. He has also had compassion on some of us, putting us into the ministry, and entrusting us with the gospel, for he knew what love would do for us, and he was certain he could still make something of us for his own glory.

30. The last victory of love is in enduring all things, by which I understand a patient perseverance in loving. This is perhaps the hardest work of all, for many people can be affectionate and patient for a time, but the task is to hold on year after year. I have known some men earnestly check their temper under provocation, and bear a great many slights, but at last they have said, “There is an end to everything: I am not going to put up with it any longer. I cannot stand it.” Blessed be God, the love that Christ gives us endures all things, just as his love endured to the end, so does the love which the Spirit works in us endure to the end.

31. In reference first to our fellow Christians, love holds out under all rebuffs. You intend that I shall not love you, my good man, but I shall love you. You give me the rough side of your tongue, and make me see that you are not a very lovable person, but I can love that notwithstanding all. What? Will you do me a further unkindness? I will oppose you by doing you a greater kindness than before. You said a vile thing about me; I will not hear it, but if it is possible I will say a kind thing about you. I will cover you up with hot coals until I melt you; I will war against you with flames of love until your anger is consumed. I will master you by being more kind to you than you have been unkind to me.

What hosts of misrepresentations and unkindnesses there are; but if you go on to be a true Christian you must endure all these. If you have to deal with people who will put up with nothing from you, take care to be doubly patient with them. What credit is there in bearing with those who bear with you? If your brethren are angry without a cause, be sorry for them, but do not let them conquer you by driving you into a bad temper. Stand firm in love; do not endure some things, but all things, for Christ’s sake; so you shall prove yourself to be a Christian indeed.

32. As for your dealing with the unconverted, if ever you go into the field after souls, be sure to carry your gun with you, and that gun is love. You gentlemen who go out shooting partridges and other birds at this time of the year, no doubt find it a pleasant pastime; but for real excitement, joy, and pleasure, commend me to soul winning. What did our Lord say, “I will make you fishers of men.” If you go out fishing for souls you will have to endure all things, for it will happen that some whom you have been seeking for a long time will grow worse instead of better. Endure this among the all things.

Those whom you seek to bless may seem to be altogether unteachable, they may shut their ears and refuse to hear you; never mind, endure all things. They may grow sour and sullen, and revile you in their anger, but do not be put off by them, let them struggle until they are wearied, and meanwhile wait quietly, saying to yourself, “I must save them.” An orderly who has to take care of insane people will frequently be attacked by them, and have to suffer hard blows; but what does he do? Strike the patient and make a fight of it? No, he holds him down and pins him firmly; but not in anger, for he pities him too much to be angry with him. Does a nurse with a delirious patient take any notice of his cross words, and grumbling, and outcries? Not she. She says, “I must try to save this man’s life,” and so with great kindness she “endures all things.” If you were a fireman, and found a person in an upper room, and the house was on fire, would you not struggle with him rather than let him remain in the room and burn? You would say, “I will save you in spite of yourself.” Perhaps the foolish person would call you names, and say, “Leave me alone, why should you intrude into my bedroom?” But you would say, “Never mind my intrusion; I will apologize afterwards for my rudeness, but you must be out of the fire first.” I pray that God gives you this blessed unmannerliness, this sweet casting of all things to the wind, if by any means you may save some.

33. If you desire to see the mirror and the paragon of persevering endurance, look there! I wish you could see it. I wish these eyes could see the sight as I have sometimes seen it. Behold the cross! See the patient Sufferer and that ribald multitude: they thrust out the tongue, they sneer, they jest, they blaspheme; and there he hangs, triumphant in his patience, conquering the world, and death and hell by enduring “all things.” Oh love, you never sat on a throne so imperial as the cross, when there, in the person of the Son of God, you endured all things. Oh that we might copy in some humble measure that perfect pattern which is set before us here. If you wish to be saviours, if you wish to bless your generation, let no unkindness daunt you; let no considerations of your own character, or honour, or peace of mind keep you back, but of you may it be said, even as of your Lord, “He saved others, he could not save himself.”

34. Have I not shown you four grand battles excelling by far all the Waterloos, [b] and Trafalgars, [c] and Almas, [d] and Inkermans [e] on record? Heroes are those who fight, and win them, and the Lord God of love shall crown them.

35. III. I close by noting THE SOURCES OF LOVE’S ENERGY.

The time is gone, as I thought it would be, but it has brought us around in a circle to where we started from. The Holy Spirit alone can teach men how to love, and give them power to do so. Love’s art is learned at no other school but at the feet of Jesus, where the Spirit of love rests on those who learn from him.

36. Beloved, the Spirit of God puts love into us, and helps us to maintain it like this: — first, love wins these victories, for it is her nature. The nature of love is self-sacrifice. Love is the opposite of seeking her own. Love is intense; love is burning; therefore she burns her way to victory. Love! Look at it in the mother. Is it any hardship to her to lose rest and peace and comfort for her child? If it costs her pain, she makes it pleasure by the ardour of her affection. It is the nature of love to court difficulties, and to rejoice in suffering for the beloved object. If you have fervent love for the souls of men, you will know how true this is.

37. Next to this, love has four sweet companions. There are with her tenderness that “bears all things,” faith that believes all things, hope that “hopes all things,” and patience which “endures all things” and he who has tenderness, and faith, and hope, and patience has a brave quaternion of graces to guard him, and he does not need to be afraid. Best of all, love extracts her life from the wounds of Christ. Love can bear, believe, hope, and endure because Christ has borne, believed, and hoped, and endured for her.

I have heard of one who had a twist: they say that he saw something that others never saw, and heard a voice that others never heard, and he became such a strange man that others wondered about him. Oh, that I had more and more of that most solemn twist which comes through feeling a pierced hand laid on my shoulder, and hearing in my ear a sorrowful voice, that very same voice which cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” I wish to see that vision and hear that voice, and then, — what then? Why, I must love; I must love; I must love.

That would be the soul’s strange bias and sweet twist. Love makes us love; love bought us, sought us, and brought us to the Saviour’s feet, and it shall henceforth constrain us to deeds which otherwise would be impossible. You have heard of men sometimes in a mad fit doing things that ordinary flesh and blood could never have performed.

Oh to be distracted from selfishness by the love of Christ, and maddened into self-oblivion by a supreme passion for the Crucified. I do not know how otherwise to put my thoughts into words so that they may hint at my burning meaning. May the Lord of love look into your very eyes with those eyes which once were red with weeping over human sin: may he touch your hands with those hands that were nailed to the cross, and impressed nail marks upon your feet, and then may he pierce your heart until it pours out a life for love, and flow out in streams of kind desires, and generous deeds, and holy sacrifices for God and for his people. May God grant it, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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